Chain hanger

Visualising how things will look has never really been a strong point with me. I often have to hope for some clue from other sources, or more often than not, I need to physically hold things together in a fashion to see how they sit together. It’s not a bad way to see things sometimes. I’ve often done it with bottles to see how one body looks sat on top of the neck of another. So in deciding what to try next, I usually just pick odd things up and have a play about.

Left over from the wooden bases project, there was a small off-cut of oak, and on measuring it, found it to be just big enough to sit a tea-light on. I drew a 37mm circle around the tea-light, and then roughly squared the wood off. Placing it down, it fitted quite nicely inside the base of an amber wine bottle I’d already cut the bottom off, so that looked like an possible option to make a homemade bottle hanger. The copper ones I’ve used previously are really good, but do cost a bit of money, so it would be good to try and make a cheap option from as little bought-in materials as possible. oak hanging tray

I routed out a shallow depth to the 37mm circle outline, just deep enough to hold the tea-light in place when slightly swaying. The wood was then sanded down on all faces and edges, and then given a coat of wood dye to darken it up. When dry, four small eye screws that are usually used on picture frames were then screwed into the four corners of the face. I had bought a metre length of decorative chain used in crafting, so used that to create four equal lengths to suspend the wooden tray. The length was judged from the neck top to a tray height that suited the height of the bottle. You could you also use other strong non-flammable materials like solid or twisted wire to achieve the same effect. chain bottle hangerThough chain might be more bulky, its easy to attach to rings at either end without special crimping tools so seemed like a good choice for the first attempt.

The main hanging line was made with the same chain, and allowed for a good foot or so of clearance when in the hanging position, which also allows enough slack to lift the bottle upwards to access the tea-light tray when required. I had a few strong 20mm diameter aluminium rings left over in the shed from years ago, and these were perfect to form the top hanger, but more importantly, a good size to create the wedging ring inside the bottle neck. The obvious side benefit of a chain and ring hanger like this is that the bottle always sits dead plumb, as it’s resting centrally on the ring in the neck opening, rather than  resting on just one half of a the bottle shoulder like the copper spiral ones do. A tea-light was then slid onto the tray, and lit to test the airflow around the base, which was fine. The bottle and chains warm up, but not in any unexpected or worrying way. It’s surprisingly difficult to get four equal sized chains to sit and hold the base dead level, despite ring counting, but it’s near enough and copes with a light swaying movement perfectly fine. I’ll try something smaller and more flexible next time, but it’s been not a bad first go at a total overall materals cost of under £1.50.

 

 

Wooden bases part 2

Following on from my earlier ‘Wooden base pt1’ post, where a base was made from scrap timber, I wanted to try and make a couple of slightly better versions, using a different holding method, specifically for a couple of bottles I had in mind. The first one was a nicely shaped traditional ‘real ale’ brown bottle with the the very bottom removed. For the second, I also had a salvaged milk bottle, which I hadn’t yet seen or thought of any design to suit it stubby size.

tealight hurricane

First I needed some nicer wood for the base. I had seen these inexpensive thick oak coasters of around 100mm square and thought they would be great for bases. The other key item I had bought earlier was some horseshoe nails. These are a great looking item used in stained glass work. I had seen a design using flat metal with soldered tops to act as retainers, but I thought these would be just as good, and certainly look the part.

I had already cut and finished the bottles at the size I wanted, and was very satisfied with the end results. Using the Dremel again, I repeated the routing process as in part 1, with a 37mm recessed circle in the centre for a tea-light, and a 2-3mm channel forming a crosshurricane candle for the airflow underneath the bottle edges to create the draw. As the real ale bottle was at almost full height, with a narrow neck, I thought it best to have the four vent points rather than just two to hopefully maximize the airflow, particularly as a pillar candle can fill the bottle. The wood was then sanded down, and a couple of coats of dye were applied.

The bottle was placed centrally in position, and marked a starting point for the horseshoe nail on a diagonal line between the centre and the corner of the base. The nail was tapped in without penetrating the bottom face of the base, leaning it back slightly to allow for easier placing of the bottle onto the base without the glass edge hitting metal all the time. About 10 degrees seemed fine. The process was repeated on the opposite corner, allowing for only 2mm or so play between the bottle and the two pins. I figured it would want to be as tight as it dare be, allowing for a small amount of expansion from the candle heat. The other two pins were nailed in position using the same method. In the finish, once warm, the bottle and base lifted up together as one. Time will tell if it proves too tight when very warm, but I think it’s fine so far. I’ve shown the brown beer bottle with both a tea-light and a larger pillar candle inside. Both work well, and look quite good in a fireplace setting.

milk bottle light

 
Overall, I’ve enjoyed a foray into using the combination of wood and glass together, despite my quite limited ability at woodworking. Using the horseshoe nails gives a slightly country or rustic feel to the darkened oak base. It would be interesting to have a similar go on a timber section with some tree bark on the edge. I’ll be using some of the joinery contacts I’ve got at work for some wood offcuts, which might prove easier to router neatly than 100mm squares, but it’s been good to try the nails and general idea. I want to try cylinders from ‘top and tailed’ wine bottles next, with an idea to make a wall-mounted votive type of design , similar to sanctuary or tabernacle lights you see in churches. I know the glass cutting part isn’t going to be a challenge, having done this quite successfully already, but we’ll have to see how I get on with improving the woodwork and metalwork skills first! The ideas floating around in the mind anyway. I can picture what it could potentially look like already, which for me is unusual and quite a good start!

Christmas day fixing

I popped round to my sisters later on in the day, and was presented with the neck and base of an Edinburgh Crystal wine glass, kept for me  to see if it was any good to use for some glass tinkering. It had been accidentally caught with a wooden spoon during the day and had broken right at the base of the glass and the neck head. I’m sure it could have been useful, but I enquired where the rest of the glass was, as what I had there wasn’t too fragmented, so I figured it might fix. It was fished out of the bin, and only a small fragment was missing – Well worth a try with the UV bonding glue I use.

 

Repaired glass 

It has seemed to work quite well, though it will never fool David Dickinson, with a slight lean which couldn’t really be helped. It will keep the numbers right, and hopefully will still be in use next Christmas day. Time will tell!

 

Wooden bases part 1

Having got to grips with chopping the bottoms off bottles cleanly, and getting a very satisfactory final finish, it was time to explore a few options for a bottomless bottle, other than the hanging lights that I’ve done a few of already. Looking around for a few ideas, the combination of coloured glass bottles and wood looks good together, and there’s some good looking designs with hurricane style candle lamps using flat bases. Probably the finest ones I’ve seen have been bases on old barrel sections, but there’s also a number of tea-light holders based on driftwood and logs sections.

Floorboard section

I placed the prepared bottle centrally on the floorboard, and drew round it’s outer circumference for the outline. The inside outline can be gauged by the bottle thickness, which in this case averaged 4-5mm. At this stage, if you place your bottle over a lit candle to gauge how it will look, you will notice that the flame will soon start to struggle and dies.Routered baseYou soon work out that a channel or some other method for drawing air into the bottle is required, creating a chimney ‘drawing’ effect. You could drill a hole in the glass as low as possible, but it’s best not to weaken it too much as it’s likely to be handled a quite a lot.  You could have the base on some feet, and let it draw through some holes in the base if you prefer a less visible solution. In this case, I thought I’d start with a thin channel of about 2-3mm, and deepen it if required to allow more air to drag through. If a tea-light is the intended use, you could also add a central circle outline of around 37-38mm, which would help stop it moving off centre.
 

Floorboard light

I routed the outlines out using a Dremel rotary tool, testing the depth and width of the circles with the bottle till it was a good enough fit. Then I adjusted the router height, and increased the cut depth of the two airflow channels. Once happy enough with the overall bottle fit and airflow performance, the top and all edges were sanded and rounded down, and the wood was given a couple of coats of oak wood dye. I avoided the notion of any varnish or was, as its final use might well be in a warm fireplace, or it may be affected by the heat under the bottle itself, which does get surprisingly warm even with a tea-light. Overall, the finished look is not too bad for a ‘rough and ready’ same day experiment. I retained the tongue and groove parts of the floorboard, just to show its re-used nature. A very cheap and straightforward little experiment using leftover bits and bobs, with only a tea-light as a new expense.

 [skip to wooden bases part 2 here]

 

Sauce bottle

The beauty of having more than one type of cutter is that it can give you a greater range of options in terms of bottle cutting heights and diameters. A few small bottles have been too narrow in diameter to fit onto the Ephrem’s cutter, but this is where the G2 cutter steps in nicely. One such bottle that I’ve been waiting to start on, when I finally emptied it, was a Sarsons Worcester Sauce bottle, which has a narrow neck with a lid ridge at the top, and an almost  flat shoulder above a cylindrical body. I thought the neck and shoulders would make a great base, and that the body would be fine on top of it.

Worcester SauceFirstly, the bottle was soaked to remove the label, and the drip lid was removed with the point of a screwdriver. The bottle was then cleaned thoroughly with hot water to remove the last of the sauce remains prior to cutting. The round of the shoulder of the bottle actually forms a clear step-in of less than 1mm onto the cylinder of the body, which gives it a distinctive line, but also makes it slightly awkward to cut. You don’t want it much lower, as it might make the base foot look odd, but too close might add risk to the cut as a good score line is especially important on a small bottle, and I noticed there was a slight variation in the bottle on a test spin with the cutter. I pushed it as high as I could, and hoped for the best. The scoreline was good, though close to the change in angle, so I took plenty of time to run the cut with the hot and cold water. I warmed the bottle slowly around the full diameter, and then quenched it under the cold. On close inspection, It had ran cleanly and fully, and separated perfectly on the next warming. The body of the glass was surprisingly thick at around 3mm, and more substantial to work with than most beer bottles.

The clean breaks were gently arrissed down in 3 stages with increasingly finer grade diamond pads, and then scrubbed clean and dried. The base was then UV glued onto the neck top. Though the base was largely embossed with numbers, they actually didn’t hinder a central position for the narrow neck. The UV torch was used initially for speed, but as it was clear glass, I left it in the window for the day to fully cure naturally.

Worcester

The narrow body with it’s internal opening diameter of about 42mm is a really great fit for most tea-lights. All in all, a very nice little bottle to work on with an attractive end result. The neck and shoulders really make it work. It goes to show that you should keep an eye on all your glass containers for potential use, including sauce bottles and jars, and not just the more usual beer and wine bottles. I’m looking at all the condiment bottles and jars  when shopping now.

Drilled and lit Bottles

I’ve never been one for all the glitter, fake snow and tinsel at Christmas. I don’t mind seeing a decorative tree , but the cats climbing instincts soon put pay to that idea. I think what’s most appealing about this time of year are the decorative lights, not the flashing snowmen and Santa sleds, but the more tasteful banks and chains of coloured lights.

There’s loads of nice examples on the internet of bottles lit with lights inside, and people generally do a real nice job of decorating them too. As with a lot of the things I’ve tried so far, for now, I just wanted to give it a quick whirl to see how difficult it was. As yet, I’ve not had the chance to try a drilled bottle, so I got a chain of 20 white LED fairy lights, and some ceramic/glass drill bits (not the spearhead type, the diamond tipped core type). The modern LED type of lights are best for this, because they are cheap and widely available, as well as reliable and available powered mains or neat battery packs. The main benefit is that the LEDs themselves, combined with the cable returns are quite small, so they can pass through a smaller sized hole in the bottle back, making it both easier to do and neater to conceal.

I only had a couple of empty wine bottles handy at the time, but they looked fine. After checking the bulb dimension, I figured a 12mm diamter hole would still be fine to pass the lights through, even after a rubber donut grommet was placed in the hole. I think anything less than 10mm diameter would become a battle for many LED lights, as you may want to remove the string, and a tight fit may end up requiring pulling on the delicate wires too hard for their own good. Drilling glass should be done with water to keep the bit and the glass cool. A good way to do this, as seen on YouTube, is to form a circular wall around the hole target with plasticine, to form a mini reservoir of water inside. A pillar drill is best to ensure a consistently square downward motion. You could be a bit more ‘adventurous’, shall we say, and drill the bottle manually with a cordless handheld drill, with the glass submerged in water. Obviously this makes it much harder to ensure a steady drive through the glass, but especially difficult to get the hole going without slipping. I did it this later way, angling the bit first to get a biting groove before elevating the drill up to the vertical. It worked OK, but I’d recommend only the pillar drill method is used for best and safest results. When drilling flat glass for commerical use, it’s usually drilled both sides to ensure the best result. Obviously with a bottle this option isn’t there, so a slow and steady speed and only light pressure is best to avoid chipping either face heavily. You’ll know your starting to abrade the glass when glass dust clouds the water. When cleanly through, you should arris the edges of the hole as best you can with a bit or some rolled sandpaper (try folding it round a pencil). It’s tricky to arris a small hole, but as I’d recommend a rubber grommet is always used with wiring holes, you need not spend to much time on it as this will help cover most things.

Lit olive bottle

Clean and thoroughly dry the bottle out. I did notice that the hole helped it act like a chimney and the mositure dried it out very quickly when the bottle was left sat in front of a warm fire. This method of warmer drying leaves it streak free, which isn’t always possible just tipping it up, and you need it streak free and sparkling if you are putting lights inside as they will show. Once sparkling, then you can add the grommet, and begin to feed the lights through the hole. A good tip is to tilt the bottle downwards, to hopefully encourage the end of the chain of lights to come down the neck of the bottle until you can grab a hold of the end. Keep this end sticking out and held while you feed the rest of the lights into the main body. Then at the end, it will hopefully be bulked out enough to keep a few lights right up in the neck and shoulder area. You don’t want to see them all slumped down i the main body, as when lit, you want to keep the shape of the bottle body lit up. Shake it about gently to improve the look if they are too cluttered together. Sometimes, you’ve just got to do it again to get the best balance.

Frosted lit effect

Cork the bottle if you prefer, and that should be your simple lit bottle project done. You could further garnish the bottle more with etching, glues, paints and decorative objects. Clear coloured bottles work well, but you can find the occasional frosted effect bottle ‘off the shelf’ , as pictured right, to help diffuse the effect of the lights and bring the overall bottle shape out really well. Either way, the effect of the coloured glass with the fairy lights is quite atmospheric in a darkened room. These two are just quick experiments but I can see it’s going to be interesting to really take some time and create a really good looking bottle for all year round use, or festively themed one for the Christmas period. Hopefully this quick little attempt and description may be of use to someone wanting to try drilling a bottle. It was easier than I had expected, and there’s loads of much better examples of peoples work on the internet to give some ideas.

Lens Cutter review

Traditional suction centre circle cutters are widely available , but most do have a minimum circle size by design, determined by the size of the suction cup centre that they spin around. If you want to cut perfect circles smaller than 75mm or so, then a dedicated lens cutter is a must.

Lens cutterThis unbranded blue based model was sourced on Ebay for convenience, but from what I can see, it is identical in the red base coloured Easycut Lens cutter that is available from stained glass outlets for around the same money, give or take a few pounds. It’s a weighty, all metal construction and has a circle cutting range from as little as 10mm diameter through to around 125mm. The base and neck are very sturdily made, as is the spring loaded turning mechanism. Grid marksThe cutting head is a centre threaded three wheeler, of the same style as the Ephrem’s bottle cutter, though a different diameter and thread mount size. It screws to the adjustable cutter arm, and locks up tighly with a thumb screw and locking washers. The base is clearly marked with a centre cross, complete with numerical markings to one side. The adjustable cutter arm is also marked on one side with numerical spacings.

 The back face of the centre mount, though slightly ridged, acts as quite a useful backstop to help you keep the glass steady. There are no other glass restraining features on the glossy base, so that’s quite handy  if you are just cutting a circle out of a comfortably larger piece of glass without the need for marking out. Where a more exact cutting position is required, then you will be reliant on trying to hold the glass firm using the centre cross guide, which I can imagine might allow scope for the odd slip, but I’m sure in such circumstances, some improvisation with sticking tape, packing out with spacing blocks or a thin non-slip matting or rubber could help. Lens cutter 

Positioning the cutting head is relatively straight forward, as visibility is pretty good all round, and it’s easy enough to ensure the cutting wheel is at 90 degrees to the glass surface by rotating the arm around. The spring-loaded mechanism offers enough resistance to encourage you to place a firm downward pressure to contact the cutting wheel with the glass, and the operation to rotate is smooth and unhindered. It’s relatively intuitive to get the right amount of pressure to ensure a clean scoreline right from the first go, without the risk of pushing too hard. It’s all nicely weighted and designed. After lubricating the wheel, the first go at a circle produced a very clean score.Circle score It was relatively easy to see how the cut progressed, and the audiable scoring sound was clean through to the final click as the score met it’s starting point. One thing I noticed right away was that the circle was off-centre with the cross. After a few moments scratching my head, I realised the centre mount on my model had some play to move, so just needed tapped over and tightened up and all was fine. Just an observation noted in case anyone found a similar scenario. The 1-5 guide marks on the base suggest they are in centimetres, but it soon becomes clear they don’t scale up right, so using a ruler to convert to the number marking on the scale is essential. After that, you can set the wheel quite accurately using only eye adjustment with the base grid and the centre grove of the cutting wheel. Though problematic, with a bit of sensible judgement, you can get within a millimetre or so of a set diameter you might require. I know from experienced work colleagues, that there are few circle cutters that are accurate to the scale indicators. Manual checking is nearly always required, so though annoying, it’s not come as a great surprise.

circle break-outHow you chose to run and break out the glass circle is down to personal preference. Some might tap the score to visibly run, a glass-cutting colleague prefers to lay the cut face-down on a cutting table (firm felt), and  push down on the score. Once ran, you can, like me, cut from the score to the glass edge at N,S,E and W, and break out the circle, ready for gentle arrissing for use in copperfoil or other hobby uses.

circleThis lens cutter is a sturdy, and well designed tool for it’s rather specialised purpose. It might be considered a bit expensive a purchase for the occasional user who needs the odd small diameter circle cut, but it’s a quite good long term value tool for the money. It just works well right from the off, and unlike bottle cutters, has no real learning curve required other than knowing how to break out the circle, which those who want to cut circles will probably already know. One of those tools that just does what it says on the box, and does it pretty well with little user skill required. Having tried the alternative of hand cutting templated circles in a copper-foil class, I can see how this tool is much more preferable and accurate.

Pros: Sturdy, well made, accurate motion, easy to use, clean score, replaceable wheel

Cons: Lack of grip for small sizes or precise centres, scale not in millimetres. Initial outlay.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10

Ephrem’s Original cutter review

After some time spent browising the internet, watching YouTube videos and reading the odd review, the Ephrem’s bottle cutting kit was my initial choice after deciding to give this hobby a try. The main reason for my selection was the proven pedigree of a long established cutter, the ease at which the video demonstrations showed the clean operation and that it could be bought in the UK from a reputable source with spares availability – in my case from www.creativeglassguild.co.uk .

Ephrem's bottle cutter

The Ephrem’s orignal bottle cutter is a horizontal rolling system, consisting of an adjustable jig on which the body of the bottle is laid, which makes for a very steady and consistent cutting manoeuvre. The manufacturing quality is excellent, with firm mechanics on the bolts and adjusting screws, nylon rollers, good quality cutting wheels and a nice glossy paint finish. The base has two very high quality non-slip strips that keep the base still on a number of surfaces, which is important in producing an exacting score line. With the standard product, you get a clear instruction booklet, a candle, grinding grit and some finger width emmery papers. Whilst the papers are very useful, I’d recommend you abandon the candle and ice-cube method and go straight to the hot and cold water score running methods outlined in the blog post ‘first attempt’.

The mechanics of adjusting the jig are straight forward. The cutting wheel is fixed, and the rear two nylon wheels and the end-stop bracket adjust on a grove rail, secured by a retaining screw and nut. This ensures a very firm fixing, which combined with the non-slip base allows you to keep a very secure and accurate rotation on the bottle with a little rearwards pressure, but it does make slight adjustments a touch slow and fiddly. You do need a flat screwdriver and either strong fingers or a spanner to adjust it each time.The end stop bracket can be reversed, which help add a little longer or shorter range to the stop, which is important when cutting non-cylindrical bottles that may have a raised or flared section at the base or shoulder. The jig is ultimately limited somewhat in length, but can be operated without the end stop, leaving just the rear wheels, giving you the opportunity to overhang a long bottle and use an outside end-stop like a flat wall or even a home-made jig that you can see in my blog post ‘Jig extension for cutter’. This gives you the opportunity to cut the base of wine or spirit bottles that ordinarily the cutter isn’t long enough for. As the width of the rollers is fixed, it does ultimately have a range limitation in terms of bottle diameters, but it does cope admirably with beer bottles and wine bottles, in fact most I’ve tried within the 50mm to 100mm plus diameter range. Only a couple have been too small. It’s best with fairly regular cylindrical bottles and jars, and as the rollers are in a flat plane, it cannot cope so easily with oval bottles, or glass containers that have heavily ribbing or curved profiles (like the teardrop shaped Perrier bottles for example).

The cutting operation is very smooth , thanks to the quality nylon rollers mounted on stainless bolts. The all metal construction gives it good long term strength. Occasionally the nylon rollers do work the retaining bolt loose, which you need to keep an eye on, but this just needs a small pinch up and is no big deal. The three wheel cutting head is secured onto the body by a screw, and cutter specific replacement cutting wheels are available online for around £5. The screw adjustment allows to to easily alter the angle of the cutting wheel, so that the cut is set at 90 degrees to the bottle body. A small amount of downward pressure needs to be applied over the wheel when rotating to ensure a good score line, but it is easy to over do this and get a slightly over-heavy cut , with some fragmenting. Likewise, it is quite easy to apply too little pressure, and have it miss a little, or skip over a bottle seam. It takes a little practise to get just right, but the sound is always quite clear to assist this, and this cutter offers a consistently accurate score line to an equal or better standard as any of the cutters I’ve used so far. When a wheel becomes damaged and scores badly, you just rotate the head to the next one. You should always remember to oil the cutting wheel before every session, as it’s vertical nature makes is prone to cut badly if left to lose it’s oil in storage.

The deluxe version of the cutter comes with a bottle neck cutting extension and cutter mount, but this is also available separately as a spare part. I’ve not yet tested this feature, but will add it to this review if I do in the future. Please be aware you need the deluxe version or to order the bottle neck parts separately to the original model to perform bottle neck cutting.

Results from the Ephrem’s have been consistently good over the learning process, with most failure causes steming from less than perfect technique rather than any cutter design problem. The wheels do tend to become less favourable a little quicker than other designs because of the downward pressure on them, but it’s a very easy method for the beginner to pick up, and gain confidence quickly. It’s ease of use is unrivaled. It’s no surprise it’s got such a long pedigree over the decades. I’d highly recommend this high quality cutter as a good introduction to the hobby if you’ve got a little extra cash to spare over the other types. It’s very good value for a higher quality item, and also I’ve noticed very re-sellable with good retaining values on the likes of eBay if you decide not to follow up on the hobby, so is a good first time bet as you’ll get a good chunk of your money back.

Pros: High quality construction, accurate cuts, safe operation, easy to master, open & go

Cons: fiddly adjustment, bottle size limits, cutter spares, bottleneck ability extra

Overall Score: 8.5/10

G2 cutter review

The third bottle cutter I’ve bought is the Green Generation (G2) bottle cutter, which is a traditional design, using recycled aluminium, easily available worldwide from many internet retailers in the USA. I bought mine from Maple City Glass (http://www.maplecityglass.com/) via Ebay, and it arrived very quickly to the UK.

The cutter is flat packed, and assembly is simple following the diagrammatic instructions. The cutter uses a standard 6 wheel turret hand glass cutter, which makes it very economical and easy to replace in the future from any local tool merchant. The clamping nature of the holder means you could easily upgrade it to higher quality single wheel cutter, or traditional cutter of slightly different design. I don’t see many problems in accommodating several different cutters I’ve come across. As it comes, the supplied cutter is just fine, is light,  and balances well in the device.

G2 bottle cutter

 

The pre-formed plastic neck mount is securely permanently mounted on the top rod, and rests well in all the bottle necks I’ve tried it in so far. I’ve read the odd review mention of it snapping off, but I can’t see that being anything other than excessive force or lack of care in use, most likely by pulling down too hard in operation. It certainly seems very robust to me in use. If that did happen, there is scope to fix it by drilling the aluminium and creating a new pivot insert. The adjustment of the mounts are by wing-nuts, and it’s easy to adjust the position quickly to ensure the vertical rod is parallel with the main bottle body, and that the bottom rod and cutter are positioned correctly to keep the cutting wheel at 90 degrees to the glass surface.

Cutter grip

 Operation in the upright position in the photo above is very simple, requiring a careful grip of the bottom cutting section in one hand, and the rotation of the bottle on a flat surface with the other. Care needs to be taken to ensure the cut stays continuous and forward moving, avoiding going over the same section more than once. It does require a little dexterity at first, but you soon find a method that suits you. I’m left handed, and it’s proven no problem at all in that respect. You soon find the knack very quickly, and the nature of the position and method gives a very clean and fine score line, without the heavy pressure and chipping that can be found with the other glass cutters. It feels much more like the light touch required when cutting flat glass. I’m more than impressed with the score line, given the relative ordinaryness of the steel wheeled cutter itself. As a result, all the results so far have been excellent, and given a very clean break when separated with hot and cold water.  The package comes with a double ended internal cut tapper, but to be honest, I’d personally recommend you just forget about it and leave it in the box, and use the hot and cold water method. Tapping the score to run it is very erratic and unsatisfactory. If you can sell it on eBay for a pound or two, even better, and it will make your G2 cutter even more cost effective.

The adjustability of the angle of ‘attack’ using the vertical rod, means you can hit numerous different places on different designed bottles, and spin it cleanly, which isn’t always the case with heavily embossed bottles using the rolling type of glass cutter. The depth of the vertical rod also means you can cut large wine and spirit bottles right down at the base, as well as bottle necks as standard, without the need for any extra parts or home made adjustments. It makes for a very flexible device indeed. I’ve not found any significant issues at all so far, and have had an excellent sucess rate with it. All in all a very cost effective, simple and productive device that would make an excellent first choice of cutter. If you are going to just buy one cutter to just  try the hobby out, then this would be my personal recommendation. I’m more than happy with it as tool for regular use with other cutters.

Pros: Good value, recycled components, easy to replace cutter, very flexible cutting range 

Cons: Slight flimsy if very heavy handed, bulky for smaller bottle cutting.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10 

Armour Bottle & Jar Cutter review

The ‘Armour Bottle & Jar Cutter’ is an large , upright cutting device and, with the exception of a couple of wingnuts and the cutting wheel, made almost entirely of plastic. Despite a number of unfavourable reviews on the internet, I bought this cutter as a second option to try it out for product knowledge, with the intention of doing a review sometime on the blog, and to gain another option for getting under rims and for use on heavily curved bottles.

Armour cutter

The design of the cutter itself looks promising from the photogenic packaging, but on opening up, you soon find out that despite it’s size, it’s quite flimsy and lightweight. The two major parts – a base with a movable guide arm and the main tower – slot together and are joined by a white plastic pin (pictured in photo), which retains tightly but is no where near good enough for regular removal and re-entry a number of times without it getting damaged. You’ve obviously left with the choice of leaving the device intact permanently , and not storing it in it’s box, or replacing the pin with a metal bolt so you can take it apart regularly. The base has an inbuilt bench hook at the front, to try to prevent sliding backwards in use.

Armour cutting head

The cutter head sits on a plastic wedge retainer which then slides onto the tower rail. A plastic slot section is then attached above it to use as a guiderail for the tapper. An additional wedge is available to slot behind the cutting head, enabling the cutter to tilt forward and hit curved and angled glass surfaces at the desired 90 degrees. The wheel head itself contains only a single steel wheel , with no spares supplied in the box. As always, the wheel is lubricated before use.

The setting of the cutting head is quite versatile, with a large vertical range, and also a tilt feature, which lets you get in under teardrop shaped jar rim heads that other cutters cannot hit very well unhindered. The base arm has a curved adjustment groove, to allow you to provide a one-sided fixed stop position to the left, but on most jars and smaller bottles it’s in effect just a flat face so offers no real control over the spinning of a bottle or jar, nor does it help to maintain a good surface contact at all times with the cutting wheel by preventing backward or forward movement of the jar/bottle.backplate slot

To the right of the base is a slot , which captures the arm, allowing for a V-shaped holding stop central to the tower below the cutting head. This works fine in theory, but in reality the small lip just fails to retain the arm under even the slightest pressure and pops off –  It’s really useless! There is no fixing of the arm in this location, unlike the curve rail to the side. Neither position gives any real solidity to the bottle holding position, which is crucial in this design where you are in effect expecting to push the bottle/jar against a fixed cutting wheel, hold it on the base , and rotate the glass. This really just fails. Everything is too flimsy and loose to ensure a stable rotation at the correct pressure to ensure a consistent score line. Despite now being a confident and well practised bottle cutter, several attempts to use this cutter has failed to come up with a consistent score line of any acceptable quality comparable to other cutters, without resorting to a double handed guide-less rotation going backward and forward in multiple steps.

The whole design, in my opinion, is severely compromised by it’s lack of firm control and flimsy construction. It’s a real disappointment, as it looked like it was a natural for teardrop shaped bottles and jars, a couple of which I had kept back for it’s trial. I don’t like to be too negative in outlook, but this device really doesn’t cut the mustard, and would be very off-putting to anyone buying it to try the hobby. It’s off to the loft to gather dust, as I’m honestly reluctant to even pass it on or sell it on eBay. The accompanying book of glass designs is quite good, and worth a read to get some colourful ideas, though there’s little evidence of clean cut edges in there without heavy garnishing of polymer clay and paint – a hint of what’s in store maybe? I’ve only found one video online so far with this device in use, which was actually a promotional sales video for the product, and the ‘expert’ demonstration there was a a poor one also, with a poor finish demonstrated. Why it was put out instead of re-shot, I’m left wondering!  I’d really love to be proven wrong with this cutter, and see some video of it being used very successfully. If you find any, let me know!

Pros: instructional design book is worth a few £s for ideas and information

Cons: flimsy, bad design, lacks any confident control, poor operation, one cutting wheel

Overall Score: 2/10